About These Reports
The 15th annual edition of Education Week‘s Quality Counts continues the report’s tradition of tracking key education indicators and grading the states on their policy efforts and outcomes. This year’s special theme—the impact of the economy on education—is complemented by updated 50-state information on policies and conditions in four of the areas monitored by the report on an ongoing basis: Chance for Success; K-12 achievement; transitions and alignment policies; and school finance. Most of the indicators that appear in Quality Counts are based on original analyses and state-survey data from the EPE Research Center. The report also supplements those data with information published by other organizations.
In past years, the print edition of Quality Counts has provided an annual update on state policy initiatives in several key areas and has also used original data analyses to track state educational progress and performance in three other areas. Beginning with Quality Counts 2009, the report moved to a modular research design in which the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center surveys the states about policy issues on an every-other-year rotation. This approach was designed to lessen the burden on state respondents without compromising our timely reporting on key educational policy developments.
In order to provide a comprehensive perspective on state policy and performance, the 2011 State Highlights Reports integrate findings across multiple years of indicators reported in the 2010 and 2011 print editions of Quality Counts. This approach allows us to capture state standings across all six topics that constitute the analytic framework of Quality Counts. The overall state letter grades awarded in the State Highlights Reports are based on the following categories: Chance for Success; K-12 achievement; transitions and alignment; school finance; standards, assessments, and accountability; and the teaching profession.
Overall findings from Quality Counts show that some states perform consistently well or poorly across the full range of graded categories. However, a closer examination of the rankings reveals that most states post a strong showing in at least one area. This suggests that while broad evaluations of state performance can be useful, a more thorough reading of the results presented in this State Highlights Report will provide a more nuanced perspective on the educational condition of the nation and of individual states.
Editorial Projects in Education Research Center January 2011